Classic white sugar or table sugar is the most commonly used sugar in cooking and baking. Although sugar sweetens the food and delays food spoilage, it is the worst ingredient in today’s modern diet. As it is high in calories, consuming white sugar can spike your insulin level, which is bad for diabetics. White sugar harms your metabolism and interferes with hormones that regulate hunger and satiety levels. Studies have found a strong like between sugar and obesity. In fact, high sugar diets have been associated with serious diseases like heart disease, cancer, acne, aging, depression, diabetes, and fatty liver. For these reasons, it is better to substitute white sugar with these natural sweeteners for diabetics that you can use in cooking and baking.
1. Raw Honey
Raw honey is pure, unfiltered, and unpasteurized natural sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Research studies have found that consumption of honey can help you reduce weight and control blood sugar level. Another study by the University of Wyoming found that honey activates hormones that suppress our appetite level. So the study concluded that honey has obesity protective effects. Raw honey is the best natural sugar for diabetics as it has been studied for aiding insulin regulation, but high consumption can cause imbalances.
- Replacement Ratio: 3/4 cup raw honey : 1 cup white sugar
- Flavor: Lighter honey has a milder flavor and dark-colored honey has a more robust flavor
- What it does: Cooking or baking with honey results in a golden crust, distinctive flavor, and moist texture
- It is used to make: Brownies, cookies, cakes, muffins, smoothies, shake, toasts, oatmeal, ice cream, etc.
2. Coconut Sugar
Organic coconut sugar is the best natural sweetener for diabetics. It has a Glycemic Index of 35 while table sugar has a GI of between 60 and 75. It helps your body to regulate glucose and insulin levels. You can use it as a 1:1 replacement for white sugar, but the only difference is that your dishes will be healthier now. It is recommended to buy organic coconut sugar as it does not contain any chemicals or preservatives, is processed naturally, unbleached, and grown organically from coconut tree sap.
- Replacement Ratio: 1 cup coconut sugar : 1 cup white sugar
- Flavor: Subtly sweet and slight hint of caramel
- What it does: Enhances the smooth flavor curve and adds a darker color to recipes
- It is used to make: Brownies, cookies, cakes, pastries, smoothies, desserts, ice cream, etc.
3. Yacon Syrup
Yacon syrup is sweet because of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), but lower glycemic index than white sugar. The FOS in yacon syrup does not increase insulin level, so it is good for diabetics and for everyone. A study conducted on overweight and obese adults by J.A. Parnell and R.A. Reimer found that oligo-fructose available in yacon could potentially help overweight adults lose weight and improve glucose. It suppresses hunger hormone – ghrelin.
- Replacement Ratio: 2/3 cup of yacon syrup : 1 cup white sugar
- Flavor: Not very sweet and has a distinctive flavor like figs
- What it does: Adds rich caramel taste to dishes
- It is used to make: Tea, oatmeal, salad, dessert, roasted vegetables, smoothies, desserts, etc.
Other Sweetener Ideas for Cooking and Baking
Dates: They acts as a powerhouse sweetener and adds distinct caramel-like flavor. They are naturally high in sugar and fiber. You can sweeten your dessert recipes with dates and tone down the amount of other sugar that you use in cooking.
Banana Puree: Overripe bananas can be best used to replace refined sugar. Use 1/2 cup of banana puree in place of white sugar for baking cakes, pastries or muffins.
Living a healthy life for diabetics does not mean they have to give up sweets entirely. You can replace your regular refined sugar with these healthy sweeteners. These natural sweeteners for diabetics not only provide beneficial nutrients but also help you maintain a healthy nutritious diet.
What sugar substitutes do you use in cooking? Let us know in the comments section below.